By Justin Boylan
*Reminder: The 94WIP Suicide Pool homepage is CBSPhilly.com/suicidepool.
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The herd has officially been thinned. That’s what a pair of roadblock games will do to a suicide pool. Just two weeks ago we were heading into week 12 and had a monstrous number of 580 people still fighting it out. Then the Ravens beat the Saints, slicing up the pool’s population with a machete, and that Patriots-Packers epic cut what remained right down the middle. Basically, back-to-back roadblocks pulled up in a 76ers-sized tank and rolled over the competition. There was no stopping its wrath. Mission accomplished, it’s down to the final 48.
Hold up, I could have stopped it. I very confidently recommended the Saints, and I not as confidently backed the Packers a week ago. I can see it not being that easy to take suicide pool advice from someone identifying with the Grim Reaper because of his soul-crushing picks, but the last couple weeks have been bright spots trying to push me past the darkness. My what-have-you-done-for-me-lately picks from weeks 12 and 13 are 7-1, including the two roadblock games. The one loss was the Dolphins trying to upset the Broncos in a game I can’t believe they didn’t win but now doesn’t seem possible after watching that Monday night performance against the Jets.
Despite my scorching hot resurgence, Grim is going to stick around. Chances are he’ll be back, and there’s an even better chance I’m too lazy to switch to something new in the last month of the season. Long live grim reapers and bad picks!
No third-straight roadblock, so more extra hoops to jump through. The game between the Packers and Patriots was truly a toss up and was treated as such, earning a 52-51 split decision by the 103 people that entered the week alive. Elsewhere there was little noise. The Steelers and Cardinals laid eggs against the NFC South, but took out just two people, and the Giants knocked out three, which should be the last time in 2014 that anyone picks a New York football team to win anything.
Grim Reaper Selection – Broncos vs. Bills
The Denver Broncos, where have you been all my life? Why didn’t you slap me in the face that first week of September when I was busy talking up Jay Cutler and the freaking Bears? I have given Denver out as a Best Bet, but they are not one of the 13 teams I’ve picked here (I admit my picking strategy has changed over the week as I’ve gone from a fellow championship hopeful to a full-fledged demon of death, which explains why they’ve slipped through the cracks). The Broncos found a running game, and it’s the scariest thing in the NFL as we enter December.
But I want to use this space to pour one out for the Buffalo Bills. They are one of six 7-5 AFC teams hunting for one wildcard spot, but their window is closing. The worst team to beat the Bills is the 6-6 Texans. Other than that, all of their losses are to either playoff teams or potential playoff teams.
Their defense has been great, fifth in total defense, second in points per game, third in DVOA, first in sacks, and has carried an offense led by both EJ Manuel and Kyle Orton to seven wins with four games to go. And that’s exactly the problem: those four games to go. After this trip to Denver, they get the Packers at home and a week 17 game in New England, with a bye against the Raiders in between. That’s a brutal last stretch, especially when tiebreakers already have you on the outside of the playoff picture. It’s looking like an 8-8 year, an overachievement for sure.
Best Bet for Survival – Vikings vs. Jets*
*Clearly not the best bet for anyone who has the Broncos, Lions, 49ers or Packers available, but I think it’s fair to say not many have got this far without those teams.
One of these teams has been playing better lately, 3-2 in the last five games, taking care of the bad teams that “show up” to play them. They have a young quarterback with potential and refuse to quit on their coach. The other team is the Jets.
Cheating Death – Bears vs. Cowboys
A home underdog on a Thursday night in December, and the Cowboys are involved? Yes, please.
The greatest thing that can happen this season is Jason Garrett’s Cowboys unable to surpass eight wins. The fact that they started 8-3 and a .500 season is still in play is so incredibly hilarious that I will continue to cheer for it as long as it’s a possibility. I would almost trade an Eagles’ Super Bowl to see Dallas spiral out of control, finish 8-8, and then not fire Garrett.
I said almost.
Justin Boylan is a producer at 94WIP. Follow him on Twitter @justintboylan.
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